This year marks the final Pantheacon. After 26 years, the organizer of the event, Glenn Turner, has retired and decided to pursue new adventures and experiences that life has to offer. I wish her the most wonderful journey and thank her and her many volunteer team members for setting up this amazing experience for so many.
My first PantheaCon was actually not one that I attended. In a previous chapter of my wonderful adventures, I was an Irish dancer. I love Irish dancing and whenever traditional Irish music is played, dance steps that I learned or wanted to learn are moving in my head. Irish music and dance are, magical.
But I digress. My first exposure to PantheaCon was when it was still in San Francisco (SF). I was in SF for an Irish dance competition (called an Oireachtas for those who are curious) and we were staying at the same hotel that was hosting PantheaCon. My friend and I wandered through the vendor area to check out the goods offered and saw many interesting people. This was prior to my pagan and my Northern Tradition experience, though not before I was aware of the gods and goddesses. Little did I think then that a couple years later I would be attending conference workshops and making many wonderful friends over the following 14 or so years.
My years at PantheaCon have been a positive experience. I have met people with whom I have enjoyed sharing space, exchanging ideas, and continuing connection beyond the PantheaCon space. The con has dealt with troubling occurrences and responded to those issues brought up by addressing and providing redress in following years. I have seen inclusive and welcoming programming and spaces the years that I’ve attended.
The programming included a range of topics over the decades including 101 classes, rituals, panel discussions, workshops, meditation, concerts, and performance. Having such a variety of subjects gathered in one space provided a wonderful collection for people to relate and see how other traditions practiced and interacted with the otherworlds. Among the joys of the event are the variety of ways that people express their style. Hair color from the rainbows, sparkles and glitter, elaborate dress to jeans and tees, and tails, ears, and fairy wings. We’ve seen wizards, sorceresses, elves, fae, animal spirits, and even St. Nick show up as well as the many beautiful spirits and smiles throughout the event.
Another of the fun activities was ribbon collecting. To many (especially the children), collecting little 2 x 4” ribbons to attach to the name badge was as much a part of the convention experience as attending workshops. The ribbons were of many colors and had messages from as simple as the name of an organization to clever sayings.
Some of my favorites over the years include:
You’ve Been Runed (this was my ribbon); It’s the Money or the Honey (my husband’s); Mind the Ginnungagap!; What would Loki Do?; I’ve been Butterfly Mooned; Open the Whale; My Other Athame is a Light Saber; What would Eddy Do?; Bad Druid, Now Go to Your Tree; Take a Liking to a Viking
Then there were the hospitality suites. These places were spaces provided by groups to facilitate additional learning, introduction, or fellowship around common tradition or themes. The suites also hosted panel discussions, workshops, rituals, and socializing opportunities. As a person of the LGBTQI+ community, I enjoyed connecting with others from the queer community, allies, and people of color throughout the convention and especially within the hospitality suites.
For four years, my husband and I hosted a hospitality suite for divination. We held workshops, shared the latest decks and books from the top publishers, and made way for the divination deck tool swap. It was a lot planning and commitment, but we enjoyed the interaction and meeting some really talented and interesting people.
With this being the last of the con, I focused on the people of PantheaCon. I looked for those that have attended over the years and infuse the convention with their quirkiness, their smile, and their joy. I spent time with special friends in the vending room who carefully select their products to be the best for the person who chooses to go home with it. Or those who handcraft clothing, jewelry, artwork, drums, tools, books, pottery, and more. I enjoyed meeting authors from Llewellyn and Weiser as well as the wonderful staff from both companies who come every year from the Midwest and East Coast to sunny California only to spend most of the time inside to meet with attendees.
What I missed this year were the many people who chose not to or could not attend the event. There were less hospitality suites as many chose not to attend, leaving fewer spaces for people to have those inclusive spaces to connect, have fun, and additional opportunities to the regular programming schedule. I thank the groups who did attend and set up those spaces. They were welcome and appreciated.
As this chapter of pagan conventions draws to a close, another will follow it. A planning committee is already formed and working out details to produce a new convention that will further the needs of pagans for the next season. May it find the grounding, volunteers, and support to continue this valued and necessary need for community building, encouragement to face the world (especially when many are solitary practitioners), and learn about and from other traditions and practices.
To all who have likewise enjoyed PantheaCon, it has been a pleasure to share space with you over the years. To the future conventions and shared ritual and learning fires, be they in person or virtual – hail!
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